Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Ground Reality in the Interim


I have never been this consistent about blogging as I am these days but with kind of daily experiences en route sharing is crucial. The reality of being a teacher in low-income school has started hitting. After I reached Delhi on Sunday, I have been searching for a house.

I teamed with another girl  from TFI who was looking for a house too. As our first action, we decided to have a look at the schools in which we will be teaching. My school was closed. I could see a small green color gate. The school looked smaller than the most government houses I have seen all my life. We next visited my friend’s school and to describe it I need to change the paragraph and dramatize.

 We got off at the metro station. We told her school’s name. No one knew. We explained a landmark. Rickshaw walas started guessing. We hopped into one whose rickshaw-puller looked supremely confident in his claim. The streets were one of the most crowded streets I have seen in a while and one of the poorest too. . No doubt most landmarks and most schools were lost in the crowd irrecoverably.  I looked at my friend’s face. Her expression had started changing. She said “I have to dress really conservatively here. I don’t see women around”. It was majorly a Muslim area - an area where mostly shops were owned by butchers.  After fifteen minutes of bumping on what looked like the streets from “The Kite Runner”, we turned into Gali No. 9. As I think back now, I remember that “Gali” as a street from movie Dil Se with scary music in the background and camera rushing to nowhere.

The school looked like a construction place. As we stepped in, a worker looked at my friend and said that you must be looking for the school right across the street, the bigger one. The classrooms were small, no sunlight. The construction sand was pervasive, no window. There were rickshaws parked in the room labeled library and construction material in the room labeled Laboratory.  “Welcome to the toughest school in the toughest locality.” I turned around to my friend. “If you could make a difference here in next two years, you can really make a great difference anywhere in the world.”

My friend was scared. Expressions on her face were of nothing. But the scarier part had not yet started. If she is working in a place like this, she really cannot stay alone and we definitely need to find the house that is close to some other Metro station so that she has less travel time. The hurdle was she is a daily non-vegetarian and I don’t even prefer eating eggs. With drastically opposite food habits, we deduced we need separate kitchens – separate houses. We got off to a Metro station where the broker from my contacts had to show us a house. As we got off, we looked at newly constructed DDA flats. We liked them. Just for having fun from our newly found talent of being enterprising during training, we reached out to the property dealers. One of them suggested to us to stay in an ashram and the other asked us to stay farther down the metro station. It was not we were having any budget issues. We agreed to pay them on par with other tenants. Somehow they were having difficulty in understanding what we do.

 “So you are teachers?”

“Yes!”

“Government school?”

“Yeah”

“How can you live in separate houses and pay this much rent if you are government school teachers?”

“We work for Teach for India and they will support us.”

“So, you are not government teachers? We need two referrers! We would rather give these houses to Government employees”

“We are serving the country. We are committed to teach kids in low-income schools”

And then I heard the scariest thing told to my friend “We don’t give houses to people from North-East”

And the trust issues in the capital city of the country where we have committed ourselves to serve the Nation continued….

8 comments:

  1. lively experience... Sounds exciting...
    Keep going on... and sharing too

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  2. Keep going dear...you gals have it in you to fight all odds!
    But do be cautious about the surroundings!

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  3. Ohh thats harsh! Saloni.. dont worry the cause you are working for is wonderful and will keep you going. Good luck! Hope I get to meet you soon
    -sharanya

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  4. Hope you got a good house which is a win win for both of you :-)

    Dinesh

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  5. nice saloni.
    Hope house search ended well...

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  6. where are u staying now? some relative?

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  7. keeping fingers crossed Saloni!!!

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  8. you got the house right..... so congrats!!

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